Restoration in a Transformational Community 5: You’re the Guy!

In many cases, restoration has to start with a “Nathan moment.”

I have worked with numerous people in restoration who assumed that the people caught in sin referred to in Galatians 6 had repented—that he or she had shown fruits of great sorrow and is in anguish over what had happened—was ready to repudiate the sin—was in a position of non-defensiveness. While I have actually worked with some who fit this description, I have been involved in an equal number of restoration processes that started with us tracking down the offender and essentially delivering a blow to his or her spiritual solar plexus. Echoing Nathan’s powerful indictment to David in 2 Samuel 12:1-13, we began with a ‘You are the guy’ confrontation—prayerfully and pointedly. Sometimes it is the only thing you can do to stand between someone who needs your tough agape and his or her spiritual ruin.

I finally awoke to the need to do hands-on restoration with someone caught in sin by being tossed into the deep end ten years into ministry. God brought to me a personal friend who crossed all kinds of boundaries and had kept most of it hidden for a long time. I entered into a steep learning curve on restoration, learning much on the fly. The team we surrounded him with had a number of Nathan moments in that process, but seeing my friend alive in his walk with God again was worth every minute I and others gave to him. Yet I confess that we stumbled in the dark learning how to restore someone caught in sin without any of us having a clue how it was supposed to be done.

The first thing I learned during this restoration experience is that you have to be a safe person. Being safe means not only that you care, but that there is no judgmental attitude in you because the truth of your own wandering heart and the grace of God that has saved you from wandering.

I contested with a fellow leader who once told me there was no point in trying to restore people who were not repentant. We were talking about a person who we both cared about, but who was defiantly running in the wrong direction. I pointed out that Galatians 6:1 does not say restore the repentant. It says restore someone caught in sin. He totally disagreed. His stance on this messed up someone told me that he was not a safe person—not a Nathan. Because I was safe, I pursued the person until he was restored.

Steve Smith